Reject the 'illegal' Roopanwal commission report on Rohith Vemula, say activists
The Centre for Dalit Studies and other organisations protested against the Ashok Roopanwal committee report on the suicide of University of Hyderabad (UoH) research scholar Rohith Vemula on Wednesday, calling it ‘illegal’ and ‘unethical'.
A panel discussion was organised in Hyderabad, which saw participants including former MLC Chukka Ramaiah, former Chief Secretary of undivided Andhra Pradesh Kaki Madhava Rao, former president of UoH Teachers' Association K Laxmi Narayana and Rohith's friend, Dontha Prashanth.
A few members from the Centre for Dalit Studies were also present.
“Unless the commission is given separate terms of reference, it is not allowed to probe unnecessary details. The Roopanwal commission has been given limited powers for the purpose of issuing deposition notices to witness, and calling for records. It is supposed to look into the facts of the case and the grievance redressal mechanism available at the university.” Ravi Gurajala, a member of the centre, was quoted as saying.
“TS and AP have a law passed in 1993 which lays out that only the Revenue Department can decide on community certificate. It has a negative prohibition that where civil courts cannot interfere or examine community certificates,” But here we have a strange case where the one-man commission decides to probe the caste status of Mr. Vemula which is beyond its terms of reference and selectively picks evidence to prove he was not SC,” former AP Chief Secretary K. Madhava Rao said, according to The Hindu.
The Times of India quoted K Laxmi Narayana saying, "The subject of the letter was 'anti-national activities in UoH and violent attack on Susheel Kumar, university's ABVP president'. The report has taken information which would satisfy the conscience of the Union government and officials, but failed to see instances that were biased. Susheel alleged he was assaulted by members of the ASA in his hostel room. But the report of hospital said that he was operated upon for acute appendicitis. Also the initial case suggested by the then police commissioner said no serious fight occurred in the university between two parties, while the report has not taken that into consideration."
Dontha Prashanth accused the university of "whitewashing institutional murder,” and told media persons that their life had been turned upside down, ever since Rohith's suicide.
More than one and a half years after the suicide of Rohith Vemula, the Ashok Kumar Roopanwal Commission report was made public last week. The commission was formed after Rohith killed himself in the university on January 17, 2016.
Though the report was leaked to the media in October last year, garnering much outrage, it has been officially released now.
The commission claimed that Rohith was unhappy with 'worldly affairs' and his own problems, which led him to suicide.
While the report did highlight that the varsity did not have a proper grievance redressal mechanism, it justified the suspension of Rohith along with others, claiming that the administration was not under any pressure.
The controversy over Rohith's caste first broke out after a certificate of his brother, Raja Vemula, stated that he was a ‘Vaddera’, a caste which is categorised as OBC in AP.
It was later revealed that Rohith’s father Mani Kumar was a Vaddera, and his mother was a Mala. However, Mani Kumar was an alcoholic who deserted the family once he realised that Radhika was a Dalit, the family claimed.
Therefore, Rohith, who never knew his father, claimed his mother's caste, and grew up as a Mala.